Archive | January, 2014

An exciting evening at the Burger Lounge, Amwaj enjoying the AliaApproved Burger experience

31 Jan

There has been a sudden shift in the way this region (specifically Bahrain) has started to embrace social media and its power to influence. Since last year September I see an ongoing flurry of activities surrounding Twitter, Facebook and Instagram wherein all the PR and event management companies are roping in bloggers as partners. As a blogger and as someone who uses social media quite actively, I am quite taken by this new phenomenon. Winds of change are here and some very smart and intelligent PR companies like Obai and Hill understand that bloggers are that unbiased channel whose opinions people trust . This technology savvy bunch of girls at Obai and Hill have been creating events that are quite a new experience because they not only include the traditional channels such as magazines and newspapers but also bloggers who have their own follower base and influence on the WebSphere.  Perhaps Obai and Hill could be the trend setters here in the region who have begun branding their clients’ products and services and promoting them using all possible media.

Well done Team Obai and Hill!

burger lounge

Alia Almoayed

Being a part of this sassy PR and Design company’s events means you are in for a good time. I say this with experience because very recently I happened to be invited to the AliaApproved Burger event at Burger Lounge in Amwaj. The Burger Lounge has launched its very first Local Celebrity burger Campaign opening with the “AliaApproved’ Burger. The place was packed with magazines and newspaper representatives and bloggers on a chilly Thursday evening . Burgers were being served with onion rings and dips. There were bowls of exotic looking ice cream desserts doing rounds as well. Everybody was enjoying their fare and the atmosphere was boisterous. I attended this with a dear friend of mine, Farheen and we had good girls evening out clicking selfies on Instagram. All in all it was an enjoyable evening where I met with some blogger friends whom I only manage to meet during such events.

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About the Burger : What makes the AliaApproved Burger special? Well, it is vegan! In a meat loving country, vegan options are next to impossible to find. But here we have Bahrain’s leading food and nutrition expert, Alia Almoayed designing a special burger that is vegan. People are bound to be curious and would definitely be willing to get a taste of the AliaApproved Burger. The burger has been made by grinding cooked brown rice, lentils, mushrooms, carrot and spices. These flavorsome patties are then topped with caramelized onions and nestled between two fresh and crunchy lettuce leaves. This was served with guacamole and sweet potato crisps.

A match made in heaven!

 My hearty congrats to Obai and Hill team for hosting such an exciting event and best wishes to Ms. Alia Almoayed and Burger Lounge for creating this special burger which is not only dairy free but also gluten free! All the readers in Bahrain, I urge you to go and try the AliaApproved Burger at the Burger Lounge in the Amwaj Lagoon to indulge in your favourite burger whilst remaining absolutely guilt free.

About the Burger Lounge

Burger Lounge is a unique concept restaurant that serves ‘burgers with style’ in a sleek and a stylish set up located directly facing the Lagoon in Amwaj Island. Burger Lounge specializes in creating and serving delicious, mouth – watering burgers made with the finest ingredients.

Goat Cheese, Prunes and Pistachio Savory cake

24 Jan

Traditionally, cake would evoke images of sweet bakes with or without frosting. In France, cakes can be sweet as well as savory. The French savory cakes use ingredients such as strong tasting cheeses, ham, prunes etc. while the Americans call it a loaf or bread such as zucchini bread, tomato bread, cheese bread and such. These savory cakes/ breads are  served in France as before dinner treats along with drinks. This particular savory cake that I share with you today is a Rachel Khoo recipe. I have been following Rachel Khoo’s inspiring story and her videos on BBC. You can read her story in this interview here.

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Ms. Khoo calls herself a ‘Food creative’ which is a title good enough to create intrigue. She promises that her’s is a fresh approach to all things edible. Flipping through her recipes made me believe that she does keep her promise. Her recipes seem simple yet interesting enough through their flavour combinations. I have tried two of her recipes and both of them turned out marvelous. One of them was the flourless chocolate swirl cake and  then I attempted this savory cake.

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I was quite sure that my family was going to reject this unusual cake on the table for evening tea. The strongly flavoured goat cheese, the soft sweetness of the prunes and the nutty flavour of the pistachio rendered the cake an exotic taste. My family was hooked. I served it toasted and with salted butter. It is a match made in heaven.

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The next time I make it I would love to see how it would taste with whole wheat flour. If it works well, then I have a healthier version to keep for future use. What I also loved about the loaf is the fact that despite it looking so simple it photographed so well. The hint of green from the pistachio, the black from the prunes and the white from the goat cheese against the yellow-brown load looked wonderful.

CPPC4I see my list of bookmarked recipes and am startled to find that most of them are Rachel Khoo’s recipes. It goes on to show much her recipes have drawn me in. I have to get her “My little Paris Kitchen” or her latest cook book ” My little French Kitchen” which I hear has her own hand – drawn illustrations.

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For the recipe, here goes:

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Hope you guys try this cake and see for yourself how wonderful savory cakes are as well. I am a convert for sure.

The last of my bucket list : Khandvi

18 Jan

How much I enjoy cutting off items on my list! I don’t regard myself as some one with an OCD yet when it comes to making plans and lists, I may just be one. The final item on my list which I finished before the end of the year was Khandvi. Khandvi is a savory snack from the Indian state of Gujarat. I am extremely fond of Gujarati food because I was brought up there. Though my roots are in Kerala, my heart is with Gujarat. I speak and write fluent Gujarati but not my mother tongue which is Malayalam. Every October, during Navratri, I pine to go to Ahmedabad (where I did my Engineering degree) to enjoy the 9 days of festivity. Then comes Uttarayan, the festival of kites in January which I miss more than ever. When I think of Gujarat, I think of vibrant colours, cheerful and hospitable people and lip smacking food. Gujarati food tends to be sweet, even the savory ones. It is believed that a meal is not complete until it encompasses all the tastes of savoury, pungent, sweet, bitter and tangy. This holistic approach to food makes Gujarati food satisfying.

K2My mother mastered a lot of typical Gujarati recipes including dhokla and handvo. I have never managed to get any of these right at the first attempt. It only means these recipes are a bit tricky to master and require considerable practice. I had a similar experience while making Khandvi where it took me to two back – to- back attempts to get it right.

K4Khandvi is prepared usually from bengal gram flour but it can also be made using moong dal/ mung bean flour as well. The flour is mixed thoroughly with yogurt or butter milk and spiced with tumeric and ginger-green chilly paste. This is cooked on a low flame until the flour-yogurt mixture is done well. There is a test to figure out whether the Khandvi will roll without breaking. For that, you need to scoop a spoonful of Khandvi batter and apply it on a greased plate ( with oil). Let the Khandvi cool and with delicate fingers try and roll it out. If the Khandvi does not roll it means the batter is not done and needs more cooking. Sounds easy? Its NOT!! After rolling out the Khandvi, it is tempered with sesame seeds, mustard seeds, dried red chillis and curry leaves. The final touch is to garnish it with chopped, fresh coriander leaves and fresh grated coconut.

Khandvi should melt in your mouth! Mine did and I was happy the way it turned out.

K9I used the Late Tarla Dalal’s recipe – the pioneer MasterChef of India. She passed away last year leaving behind a legacy of amazing regional recipes and ‘Continental’ ones too. If you want to take a look at Tarla Dalal in action, here’s the link.

Here’s the recipe for people who are intrigued enough to try it themselves. It is a great recipe and so simple too. But simple doesn’t always mean easy.

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Now that I cleared my bucket list, I was meandering  around my statistics and discovered what my top 5 recipes posts have been in 2013.

1. The Apple turnovers

apple turn overs

2. The Blueberry Swirl Cheesecake

blueberry swirl cheesecake

3. Poached eggs in baked beans

poached eggs

4. Flourless Chocolate – Orange Cake – Nigella recipe

choc orange

5. Chocolate Mousse

chocolate mousse

It has been a fantastic year for me as far as my culinary achievements go. Crossing off a culinary bucket list, visiting France and enjoying oysters  on my birthday, contributing recipes and other food related articles to magazines and attending several food related events in Bahrain have been the highlights. All this reflection and contemplation on the year gone by only tells me that there is so much to do in 2014 that I can hardly wait to start. I take this opportunity to thank each one of you readers of  my blog who take time out to come to my space and leave your thoughts in the comments section. Reading these comments always, ALWAYS  makes my day. It only means that you do enjoy my words and this creative space of mine. Thank you again!

On being purposeless and a chocolate swiss roll

13 Jan

How is the New year treating everybody? Mine has been quite a confused one. Usually the one to plan and fret about new year resolutions, I decided to take a detour.

I decided that I shall stay purposeless for as long as I can manage.

For someone who is easily distracted and needs a million things to feel entertained, it is a big step. Those who know me, know exactly how difficult this is for someone who is forever busy in her ‘busyness’. So come this new year, I decided to take a break from thinking. And planning. And all the things that stop me from living in the present.

As a planner, I am always in the future state while my present is royally neglected. It is a shame considering there are so many moments that I would have loved to capture but I never even got around knowing them. That is because I am zoning out into the future with my plans. This realization  put me on pursuit of being purposeless. I wanted to experience a state of no-thinking. My early morning to-do lists were torn to shreds in my imagination and I let the day happen to me rather than me taking on the day. For a short while, I must admit I did feel a bit free and also had a chance to notice the beautiful rainbow in the sky from my office window. I also observed how the sunlight played a relay race with the shadows of the clouds on the beach front. Being purposeless felt good. But I also realized I wasn’t a natural at embracing this alien concept.

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Stepping out of my comfort zone and doing things taught be a great deal but relinquishing control by letting go of the planning aspect was difficult. The first few days were quite easy since it was an experiment and I was having fun with it. But after the 3rd or the 4th day, I started to experience a familiar feeling of restlessness. It started with the involuntary movement of my legs under my office desk and reached to a point where every 2 seconds my mind would be pulled by some invisible force and was made to submit itself to the planning of the future.

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I forced my mind back to being blank and to stay so. It was such a pull and tug game that lasted for some hours until I was tired. I closed my eyes for a bit in office and thought about the whole exercise.

I realized that in my efforts of being purposeless I ended up planning my pursuit of being purposeless thereby defeating the very objective.

It felt silly and so far -off from my basic instincts. My instincts asked for me  to plan, have achievable objectives and enjoy the feeling of accomplishment. Not doing this, goes against my nature and hence feels like punishment.

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You may ask  – How did this idea of staying purposeless come about?

Well a particular chocolate strawberry Swiss roll is to blame. One of the final items on my culinary bucket list for 2013 was ticked off before the year ended. I planned to blog about it earlier but my purposeless state disallowed me. The month of December was a gruelling one. There was way too many commitments on the personal and professional fronts. I planned relentlessly and met each one of these commitments without caring how quickly I was feeling burnt out. I attempted the last two items (the Swiss roll and the Khandvi) on the same day. Khandvi was just as tricky and I found success only in the second attempt. As for the Swiss roll – The first time round, I finished baking the cake and had kept it aside to cool. But in my haste, I let the tray and the cake fall on the kitchen floor. My heart broke thinking about all the effort that went to waste. But cleaning up the cake crumbs off the floor got me thinking and I felt like I did not have any energy to pull through to make another batch. I felt like giving up altogether.

It was my culinary bucket list and there was no bucket list police out there to get me in case I don’t finish it before the year ended. 

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But I am a Taurus and we don’t give up. I made another batch of cake, frosting et al and assembled the Swiss roll as delicately as I could. Towards the end of it, I was thoroughly spent. I did not want to look at another recipe or go to my oven again. I wanted a break from it all. And the thinking in particular. From here stemmed the whole idea of being and feeling purposeless. It was an experiment that lasted less than a week but I am glad I did it. Maybe it is still not the right time for me be purposeless considering there are so many things I plan to achieve. Perhaps on a endlessly tiring day, I might resolve to feel purposeless again but I don’t see that day coming anytime soon.

Now for the recipe – All those who are familiar with Rachel Khoo would know that her recipes are just as gorgeous and reliable as Nigella’s. I have tried two recipes so far and I loved both of them. This Chocolate Swiss roll recipe is delightful and finds it place in the top 5 recipes of 2013 ( post to follow). The most interesting part is that, it is flourless! I made this around Christmas which also happens to be my wedding anniversary day. This festive cake fits the bill perfectly.

Rolling of the sponge requires some skill but apart from that the log is pretty easy to deal with. Mine was extremely flawed in its appearance but it was compensated by the splendid taste.

When I think about it , I feel , may be it was the end of the year that made me philosophical and prompted me to experiment with my own psyche. Well, whatever it was, it was quite interesting.

Dineout Bahrain: Changing the ‘eating out’ scene in Bahrain

4 Jan

I always approach the new year with new ideas and great optimism. The new year for me is about new beginnings and about discovering new things around me. If you have lived in Bahrain, you would know that, no matter if you are a local or an expat, the options of discovery and entertainment lie between going to movies and eating out. Movie choices are relatively easy to figure out but it is the eating out options that can baffle you. Bahrain has a HUGE ‘eating out’ culture and by that I don’t just limit it to the posh restaurants, I also include the tiny specks of eateries that are just as popular and throbbing with patrons day in and day out.

Weekends and some weekday lunches are my ‘eating out’ days. This gives me an opportunity to try out new restaurants as well as go to my old favorites. But sometimes it becomes extremely difficult to reserve places over weekends because practically everybody is out and about in Bahrain filling up all the seats in my favourite restaurants. It is then I feel like kicking myself for not reserving my table  earlier. Funnily, it never strikes me until I reach the place to find out that it is fully booked. Also sometimes, it happens that I go to a restaurant expecting good stuff and return feeling cheated because of the awful food and service.  I always wished in those moments that I had some kind of a restaurant guide and preferably something that I quickly use on my phone that would help me pick out a restaurant, make reservations and give me tips about how my experience might turn out. Incidentally, a colleague and I discussed this over some Chinese food and decided that we should try and build a website that was easily accessible on phone and would give the user all the desired experiences regarding the dining scene in Bahrain.

But before our fledgling plan could see the light of the day, I came across Dine out Bahrain. It happens to be a one stop shop for all things related to restaurants and eating joints in Bahrain. I personally scrolled through their website and was quite impressed. Dine Out Bahrain is the island’s first independent online service that unifies the islands favorite restaurants with their hungry diners. Encompassing a state – of – the art website and mobile application it has simplified eating out like never before.

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This is how it works:

  • Bahrain’s top restaurants manage their own pages within the DineOut site providing customers access to the most up-to-date menus, promotions and events all in one place.
  • It allows for easy browsing and booking at the click of a button, with the users receiving a booking confirmation instantly.
  • The go-to service for all moods, DineOut’s quick search feature filters options precisely by type, cuisine and location. You can download food menus and see photographs of restaurants
  • Whether diners wish to glam up and dine out in style or casually hang out with friends at a shisha cafe close to home, all the possibilities are at their fingertips.
  • It provides stress-free directions of Google Map’s to guide the Users to their intended destination
  • DineOut Bahrain is constantly adding brand new eateries everyday
  • The customer review feature even makes it easy to find out what friends thought of the experience giving useful feedback to diners and the restaurant management
  •  Download the DineOut Bahrain app, compatible with both Iphone and Android systems
  • No hassle, no extra cost and no login pages

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With Dineout’s services at my disposal, I feel mighty relieved that my weekend restaurant hunting is no longer going to be a stressful activity. So if you are  someone who  loves eating out just like me, I recommend you install Dine Out Bahrain’s app on your mobile right away. In case, any of you has any queries, feel free to contact Dine Out Bahrain at the following email address: info@dineoutbahrain.com and don’t forget to check their website at http://www.dineoutbahrain.com

To download Dineout Bahrain on your mobile:

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